Brien Taylor was throwing smoke in his professional debut.
"I've never seen a kid throw that hard, that easy, and so loose," New York Yankees minor-league coordinator Mark Newman said Monday night after the major leagues' top draft choice last year led the Fort Lauderdale Yankees over the Port St. Lucie Mets in a Single-A Florida State League game.
"Easy gas," Newman said. "And what's special about him is he's so poised."
Taylor, who signed last year for a record $1.55 million bonus, was clocked as high as 96 mph and never less than 93 mph.
"The first pitch I threw was a strike," said Taylor, a 20-year-old from Beaufort, N.C. "Then I caught a butterfly."
Taylor gave up three runs and five hits in five innings, struck out three and walked one.
Bettie Taylor, his mother, watched from near the back of the stadium. Last summer, she accused the Yankees and general manager Gene Michael of trying to exploit a poor black family during contract negotiations.
She insisted that Brien be given a contract at least as good as the one signed a year earlier by Todd Van Poppel, the No. 1 pick in 1990. Hours before her son was ready to begin classes at a junior college, the Yankees agreed to the deal.